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Practical aThe baptismal mystery is that we are continuously dying to the old self and rising to the new creation. That incorporation by water and the Spirit has everything to do with the air we breathe and the water that sustains us. …

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In living out our Christian journey, we all know from experience that this is not one moment of progress and glory, followed by another moment of progress and glory, into the triumph of Christ’s risen life. We know from our hard experience that grace is costly, and there are many moments that call us to die. Baptism is not a once and for all transaction. It is a lifelong covenant that is expressed afresh in so many moments in life, that seemingly have nothing to do with God or church on the surface.

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In the 1959 Canadian Prayer Book, the Catechism starts, “What is your name? Who gave you this name?” And the answer is, “My godparents, when I was baptized, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” And, that is a Christian’s identity. If that’s the only thing somebody remembers, they’ve got their Christian life.

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The risen life of Jesus Christ is so available to us afresh in every moment of our life – just there – as this endlessly unfolding potential. But living it out, claiming it, actually weaving it into the fabric of our life, requires us to go down into the waters of our baptism over and over and over again.

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When we bless water for baptism, we tell the story of how water has become to us a sign of life. We remember that in the beginning, the Holy Spirit moved over the waters. We remember that through water God led the children of Israel out of bondage into freedom. We remember that through water Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, and in our own baptism, we move from the bondage of sin and death into the freedom of resurrection and everlasting life.

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A lot of people try to make God domestic. God becomes the “Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space” God. But this means missing the absolutely unfathomable power of God, like you can see at Niagara Falls. That’s what water can teach us about God: you can’t bottle God.

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Baptism is our birth into the church as a whole, and we enter these baptismal waters again when we physically enter the worship space. When I begin to enter the chapel and put my fingers in the holy water stoop, then make the sign of the cross, I have this experience of going through the veil. It’s an experience of entering into the baptismal waters of death and birth; saying that the preoccupations, worries, thoughts, and feelings that might be a distraction are dying in this entrance into God’s time, into the time of prayer and worship, and in this entrance into the Christian community.

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